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recycling

Seth Wenig / AP Photo

It's not only a new year but Jan. 1 also marks the start of new regulations on recycling for residents of King and Pierce counties.  

Seattle Public Utilities and King County Solid Waste are no longer accepting plastic bags or plastic wraps in curbside bins. (Pierce County already made this change). Instead, residents are asked to bundle these thin plastics up at home and take them to drop off sites at retail stores.

The main reason for the change is that thin plastics get caught in the gears of the sorting machines that separate different kinds of recycling. 

news that informs graphic
Adrian Florez / KNKX

Tacoma residents may soon pay more to recycle.

A proposal under consideration by the Tacoma City Council would tack on a new $3.40 monthly surcharge for residential customers.

It also would prevent curbside recycling of glass. Instead, residents would have to dispose of glass at drop-off spots, such as the Tacoma Recycle Center.

Recycling is changing dramatically. So, a Seattle Public Utilities staffer put on some gloves, rolled up her sleeves and sorted through the recycling at a local coffee shop with KNKX Public Radio. Here are the top 10 tips she shared.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Recycling the right way is a point of pride around here. “Obsessive Compulsive Recycler, you’re one of us,” local insurance company Pemco says in one of its cheeky Northwest Profiles.

But getting it right has become more difficult, after China stopped accepting most of our recyclable waste. With so much piling up, some worry if their careful efforts are ultimately keeping the items out of landfills.

Mr. Jincks Flickr via Compfigh cc

The pressure is on Starbucks to create a disposable coffee cup that doesn’t end up in the trash. After a lengthy campaign that featured a huge puppet made of discarded cups and a petition with more than 800,000 signatures, the company announced a new $10 million initiative to develop a cup that is fully recyclable or compostable. 

courtesy Stand.earth

A group of protestors is camping outside of Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, demanding a fully recyclable paper cup for its coffee beverages. They plan to be there all week.

Bellingham-based Stand.earth started camping out Monday. 

Monica Spain / KNKX

It’s never been easier or more affordable to dress based on fashion trends seen on the runway. But the glut of inexpensive clothing from 'fast fashion' retailers is leaving another mark, and it’s not so beautiful.

It takes about 1,800 gallons of water to make one new pair of jeans. Caroline Fichter, a mom of two boys might not know the exact figures, but intuitively she does. That’s why she dropped off used clothes at Value Village in Seattle.

 

A representative from the Washington State Department of Commerce demonstrates a pickleball paddle made from plane scraps at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Simone Alicea / knkx

A firm in Port Angeles has figured out a way to make pickleball paddles out of plane scraps.

The Composite Recycling Technology Center makes the paddles from recycled carbon fiber composites. These materials are super strong and lightweight.

When a company like Boeing builds its 787 Dreamliner, for example, it has to cut sheets of carbon fiber composites into the right shapes for different parts of the plane. But that same company may not have the resources to figure out how to recycle its leftovers.

Threadcycle

Seattle and King County residents toss nearly 40,000 tons of worn-out clothes, shoes and linens into the garbage each year. But nearly 95 percent of it could be recycled.

The Threadcycle campaign is a joint project of King County and Seattle Public Utilities. Organizers are urging residents to skip the trash and donate. 

Courtesy Wash. Dept of Ecology

Washingtonians have lost some bragging rights.

We still recycle at a rate that’s much higher than the national average, but we’re no longer improving on the amount of recyclables we divert from landfills. The statewide rate went down in the most recent data set, to 49 percent in 2013. 

King County Solid Wast

The same shiny gift wrap and bright bows that make Christmas presents so enticing are exactly what give recycling centers headaches the day after Christmas.

At the Kootenai County Solid Waste Department in north Idaho, the day after Christmas has two distinctions: it's one of the busiest days of the year by volume, and one of the lightest days by weight. The reason: wrapping paper, says Roger Saterfiel, who oversees the department.

Jake Ellison / KPLU

It’s been a month since single-use plastic shopping bags were banned in Seattle. Now, if you buy groceries, clothes or pretty much anything else, you can either bring your own bag or pay 5 cents for a paper one. 

At KPLU, some of us have had to admit it – instead of paying the 5 cents, we loaded our arms with our new purchases and tramped off to our car/bus/home.

And, we’re not alone.

Over 50 food vendors are pitching tents at the Seattle Center this weekend for the annual Bite of Seattle food fest. Organizers are hoping to make this year’s festival a zero-waste event. There are three new composting and recycling booths where visitors can dump their plates and forks.

The Associated Press

If you’ve shopped in Seattle lately, you’re probably aware of the ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags that started July 1. Now, you have to bring your own re-usable tote, or pay five cents for a paper bag.

It’s the second law of its kind to take effect in Washington. And with five more recently approved in cities from Issaquah to Port Townsend, momentum is growing for a possible statewide ban.

Kris / Flickr

They may be sorely missed by many dog owners in Seattle, who use them for cleaning up after fido. But they pollute our waterways, get stuck in the gears at recycling plants, harm marine wildlife and never break down completely. 

We're talking about thin plastic shopping bags, which are becoming a thing of the past at cash registers in Seattle, effective July first.

A plastic bag ban ordinance modeled after the ones already passed in Bellingham and Seattle is on the agenda of two suburban Puget Sound cities this week.

Bainbridge Island’s council is holding a public hearing on the issue tonight (Wednesday, 5:30 pm.) The hearing can be monitored via webcast.

And a committee at the City of Issaquah takes up the issue Thursday evening.

CocteauBoy / Flickr

Statewide, recycling for Washington State has reached the highest rates ever.  The biggest areas in which people are doing more are in reusing construction materials and composting food waste…and then there are those pesky Christmas trees.

Recycling rates have grown to 49% statewide – higher than ever. It’s an increase of 14% more than the prior year. 

But even though we’ve all become great at composting, many people still aren’t sure how to dispose of their Christmas trees.

If you’re confused about what to do with the plastic bags you get at grocery stores, you’re not alone. 

Many people know that they’re bad for the environment and that they can be recycled, but how to recycle them is another question.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Seattle residents and businesses have hit an all-time high for recycling rates. And from the front yard of a model recycling family in Seattle, Mayor Mike McGinn gave the city a pat on the back:

“53 percent – an all-time high– 53 percent of the waste produced in the city of Seattle is taken out of the waste-stream and recycled,” McGinn said.

Bert van Dijk / Flickr

Washington officials say residents have recycled more than 100 million pounds since the state's electronics recycling program began in January 2009.

In Seattle, residents have hit an all-time high in recycling of all products, according to the City of Seattle’s annual recycling report to be released Wednesday.

Publicola.com

Starting today (Thursday) a new online registry will allow Seattleites to choose whether or not they receive yellow pages phone books. But an industry group says it’s redundant, because there’s already such a website in place nationwide.

The City of Seattle site is www.seattle.gov/stopphonebooks.

AP photo

Insiders from many of Seattle's most recognizable big businesses are gathering today at the Washington State Convention Center downtown.

Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, REI, and The Mariners have all been invited to give interactive presentations meant to inspire others in the region to follow in their footsteps. The topic? Going Green.

At events in Olympia and Salem Tuesday, an activist group called on Washington and Oregon's governors to stop spending taxpayer dollars on bottled water.

Organizer Sriram Madhusoodanan, with the group Corporate Accountability International, says those little plastic bottles, sometimes available at public meetings and events, create unnecessary waste and undermine confidence in the quality of public water supplies.

Liam Moriarty / KPLU News

Sure, like most Northwesterners, you recycle like a demon. Cans, glass, plastic, yard waste. You even compost your kitchen scraps. You’re a regular environmental hero.

Or maybe not ...

ecyclewashington.org

Washington's electronics recycling program has collected 78,000,000 pounds of e-waste in its first two years. Put in perspective, that's roughly the same weight as Maine's lobster catch or US black bean exports to Mexico! The state Department of Ecology says the amount of e-waste recycled each year amounts to 5.8 pounds per person.  Old TVs account for 61% of the waste.

Bart Maguire / Flickr photo

A lot of people clear out old documents after the New Year, but you might want to think twice before shredding them.  Paper scraps are too small for some recycling companies to take from residential customers. 

Recycling workers sort out all types and sizes of paper when it arrives at the center.  Newspapers go in one pile, envelopes in another.  But those scraps of shredded bills?    

artisticconcretellc.com

Your Christmas tree can take on new life as wood chips or compost.  In Seattle and Tacoma, you can recycle your tree for free.